Here we compare and contrast Bluetooth wireless communications with other selected technologies. It is not our intent to survey the entire landscape of wireless communication; instead, we examine some of the technologies and standards activities most closely related to Bluetooth technology. Neither is it our intent to pronounce value judgments on these other technologies; each of those examined here has its own place within the "wireless world" and has been chosen to illustrate how Bluetooth wireless communication fits into this wireless world.
Other Wireless Technologies
Bluetooth technology is one solution for wireless personal area networks (WPANs). Two other technologies of interest, namely IrDA and HomeRF, are described here. The IEEE™ 802.15 standards work also addresses WPANs and the IEEE™ 802.11 working group addresses wireless LANs; this work is discussed separately in other articles.
We choose to discuss HomeRF and IrDA because they have interesting relationships with Bluetooth wireless technology. Strictly speaking, these technologies are not limited to the WPAN domain, although they can be considered part of it. Certainly there are other technologies that could be employed in the WPAN domain: wearable computing devices are becoming more popular and could be considered WPANs or elements of WPANs. IrDA is relevant for comparison to Bluetooth wireless communications because the two technologies share some similar usage models and protocols. HomeRF, like Bluetooth wireless technology, is a relatively short-range RF communications scheme that operates in the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) band. These technologies are described next, with the objective of providing a context in which Bluetooth wireless communications as a WPAN technology can be better understood.